3123. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 April 1818

3123. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 April 1818⁠* 

My dear G.

The tincture [1]  came safe, & so did the razors, – & I should have thanked you for both, if just at that time an influx of letters had not come in which put them out of mind – Verbeyst had the clearest instructions to direct the books of to Rothschilds, [2]  & to advise him when they were sent: – he could not misunderstand these orders, – yet it is possible that there may have been some neglect of this kind, because he lives at Brussels, & the packages would be shipt from Ostend. If they could find their way to the custom-house without any demand being made for freight, – there I should suppose they would be, – but the first thing a Flemish Skipper would look for would of course be to have his bill paid. The best course is what you have taken. Mrs V. will write to Brussels, & from thence Col: Houlton [3]  will write to the Commander at Ostend. – When you see the Acta (if that blessed day should ever come) you will not wonder how anxious I am to have them safe in my own possession, – for this book has been the great object of my ambition xx more than twenty years. [4] 

Canning has acted very improperly, & his conduct can only be explained by a supposition that he knew the author to be a man whose situation & character entitled him to that kind of notice. His proper course should have been to have prosecuted Ridgeway, – for the act of circulating the letter would, I think, have been considered a publication. [5]  The Times is become a more mischievous paper than the M Chronicle, – the MC. is merely a thorough-paced opposition paper, – but the Editor of the Times would go the whole length of Cobbett [6]  & Co. & is the more dangerous, but because he wants to keep the respectable xxxpart of his subscribers, whom an open avowal of his principles would disgust.

The 3 ½ plan I have not troubled myself to understand, as it concerns not me. [7]  But (between ourselves) you will be glad to hear that I am likely to recover part of my loss with the Ballantynes; who the printer has sent me a bill payable in November next for the repurchase of my share in the Register, at the price it cost me – £ 209. [8] 

All parties are to blame about the R Dukes. Ministers at first for asking too much: the H Commons afterwards for granting too little. I am afraid that some of the country Gentlemen voted with a view to the near Election not as it became them as Gentlemen, statesmen & Englishmen. [9]  Yet I think the D of Clarence has done wrong in breaking off the match; had it taken place & had he gone on quietly & prudently, upon the birth of a child, or any favourable opportunity, it would have been only to ask & have. For this poverty of the Government, & this petty fogging parsimony will neither of them last. The revenue must necessarily improve if peace continues, – & the Saving Banks [10]  in a very few years will add to the wealth of the state as well as of the country in a manner which perhaps few persons have contemplated. That class of persons who profit by this opportunity will rise a degree in society, they will acquire the wants & feelings of the class which is now next above them, & this will be felt in xxx indirect taxation. – I hardly expect that the Poor Law paper will do good in Parliament, – but it is possible that the Magistrates may act upon it, interpreting the existing laws in its favour sense, – & that the remedy is efficacious I have no doubt. [11] 

Longimanus’s eldest daughter is engaged to the nephew & partner of Strahan the printer, [12]  – to whom therefore at Longimanus’s particular xxxx request, the Life of Wesley is consigned. It will be a convenience to send the MS thro your hands, – & if you like to see the chapters in a more readable state the clean sheets may be sent me when I want them thro the same channel. It will be an exceedingly curious book, – of more value in displaying the human mind, – than all the metaphysical disquisitions that have ever been written. [13] 

Remember me to Miss Page & the Mag: Rot:

God bless you

RS.

19 April. 1818. Keswick.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 22 AP 22/ 1818
Endorsements: 19 April 1818; pd 19 April 1818/ recd 22
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Wanted to numb Edith May’s toothache, the tincture contained the herb pellitory, cloves, camphor and opium. BACK

[2] Southey had bought a consignment of books from Jean-Baptiste Ver Beyst (1770–1849), a famous bookseller in Brussels, in 1817, but its arrival was greatly delayed. The banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836; DNB) had been recruited to aid the books’ passage to Britain. BACK

[3] Lieutenant-Colonel John Houlton (1773–1839), a Somerset landowner, then living in Brussels to reduce his expenditure, whilst he rebuilt Farleigh House and educated his thirteen children. BACK

[4] The Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794), a 53–volume compendium of hagiographies. It was no. 207 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Canning had over-reacted to the circulation of an anonymous pamphlet that attacked his speech in the House of Commons on 11 March 1818 on the Indemnity Act (1818). The pamphlet, A Letter to the Right Hon. George Canning, was withdrawn the day after it was published, but circulated under blank covers by the radical bookseller and printer James Ridgway (1745–1838). Canning’s response was to write, via Ridgway, on 10 April 1818, effectively challenging the anonymous author to a duel. This letter became public on 12 April. Many thought the pamphlet to have been the work of John Cam Hobhouse, Baron Broughton (1786–1869; DNB), but no reply was received and a duel was avoided. BACK

[6] The Times, 14 April 1818, published almost all the suppressed pamphlet, A Letter to the Right Hon. George Canning (1818), only leaving out the most offensive paragraph. The newspaper, under Thomas Barnes (1785–1841; DNB), editor 1817–1841, was gradually moving away from support for the government, though it did not share the radical agenda of figures like Cobbett. The Morning Chronicle (1769–1862) was a daily paper that supported the Whig opposition. BACK

[7] On 14 April 1818 the government issued a new annuity yielding 3½ percent to raise money to help pay for army and navy pensions; it did not prove attractive to investors. BACK

[8] In 1810 Southey had been induced by James and John Ballantyne and by their silent partner Walter Scott to take a 1/12th financial share in the publication to which they invited him to contribute – the Edinburgh Annual Register. But he received none of the profits from the early editions of the Register, was not paid for his final contribution, to the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813), and feared his share in the Register had become worthless. The sum of £209 repaid Southey’s initial investment. BACK

[9] On 13 April the ministry presented to parliament the Prince Regent’s request that it should make increased financial provision for several of his brothers, who were intending marriage. This matter had become urgent with the death in 1817 of Princess Charlotte, the only legitimate heir in the succeeding generation. Eventually, Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (1774–1850; DNB) married Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel (1797–1889; DNB) on 7 May 1818; Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1767–1820; DNB) married Victoria, Dowager Princess of Leiningen (1786–1861; DNB) on 11 July 1818; and William Henry, Duke of Clarence (1765–1837; King of the United Kingdom 1830–1837; DNB) married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (1792–1849; DNB) on the same day. The government initially suggested that the Duke of Clarence’s annual income should increase from £19,000 to £40,000, as he was second in line to succeed his brother, the Prince Regent; while the Dukes of Cambridge and Kent and Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1771–1851; DNB) – he had married in 1815 – should receive £30,000. But in the face of concerted opposition, the government retreated and offered to add only £10,000 to the Duke of Clarence’s income and £6,000 to that of his brothers. On 15 April the House of Commons reduced the Duke of Clarence’s raise to £6,000; on 16 April the Commons granted the Duke of Cambridge a similar raise, but the Duke of Cumberland nothing. Finally, once his marriage was formally announced, the Duke of Kent received an additional £6,000 on 15 May. The Duke of Clarence initially declined the offer of another £6,000 and this was seen as a refusal to continue with his proposed marriage, but he relented and pressed ahead anyway. BACK

[10] The first savings bank, which accepted and paid interest on small cash deposits, had been instituted by Henry Duncan (1774–1846; DNB) in Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire in 1810 and the movement had spread rapidly. BACK

[11] Southey’s article (co-written with Rickman), ‘On the Poor Laws’, was published in Quarterly Review, 18 (January 1818), 259–308. It urged that ‘no pauper shall have a right to insist on relief in any other form than as the magistrates, or parish-officers, shall think his conduct and situation deserve’ (307). BACK

[12] Andrew Strahan (1749–1831; DNB) was MP for various constituencies 1796–1820 and ran a highly successful printing business. His nephew and co-heir was Andrew Spottiswoode (1787–1866), later himself MP for Saltash 1826–1830, MP for Colchester 1830–1831. On 16 March 1819 he married Mary Longman (1801–1870), daughter of Thomas Norton Longman. BACK

[13] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). It was indeed printed by Strahan and Spottiswoode’s firm. BACK

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